Demystifying Xiaomi’s budget lineup: Should you buy the Redmi Y2, Redmi Note 5, or the Mi A1?
It's time to find out what each phone in Xiaomi's budget lineup has to offer.
Xiaomi releases a lot of devices every year, and most of them tend to be in the budget segment. The Chinese manufacturer is nothing if not shrewd about its launch strategy, and by targeting the sub-₹15,000 segment, it managed to get a leg up over its Chinese rivals.
Xiaomi's intense focus on this segment means there are seven phones currently sold by the brand, ranging from the Redmi 5A to the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Here's a list of all the phones Xiaomi has launched in the last ten months in India: the Redmi 5A, Redmi 5, Redmi Y1, Redmi Y2, Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro, and the Mi A1.
Let's start from the top-down and work our way toward the bottom of the list, and see what each phone in Xiaomi's budget lineup has to offer.
Mi A1 Android One makes this a fantastic option
We're getting close to a year from the launch of the Mi A1, but it continues to be one of my favorite Xiaomi phones. The device combines Xiaomi's design chops with pure Android and the promise of quick updates, making it a potent combination in this category.
The camera is one of the best in this category, and while it may not be quite as good as the Redmi Note 5 Pro in low-light scenarios, the overall package makes up for it.
The phone isn't up for sale online from the looks of it, but you can pick it up from hundreds of Mi Preferred stores from across the country.
Differentiator: Android One.
- Xiaomi Mi A1 review: Best of both worlds
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro vs. Mi A1: MIUI takes on Android One
Redmi Note 5 Pro Xiaomi's best phone is also its worst
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the first phone in the world to feature the Snapdragon 636, and it also is the first Redmi phone to come with 6GB of RAM. There's a dual camera at the back, a 20MP front shooter, and a 4000mAh battery.
As good as the Redmi Note 5 Pro is when it comes to day-to-day usage, the phone isn't actually up for sale. Nearly four months after its launch, the phone is limited to weekly flash sales that last for mere seconds, so the phones are largely academic at this point. Sure, it has great hardware, but its inaccessibility makes it a non-starter in this segment.
Differentiator: Sheer hardware (that Snapdragon 636 is a beast).
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 AI-assisted selfies — what's not to love?
The ₹9,999 Redmi Y2 is the latest addition to Xiaomi's budget lineup in the country, and it has a similar design aesthetic as the Redmi Note 5 Pro. On the hardware front, it has more similarities with the Redmi Note 5, thanks to the Snapdragon 625 chipset.
The phone is notable for having a dual 12MP + 5MP shooter at the back — the same as the one you'd find on the Redmi Note 5 Pro, but it's the front camera that differentiates it. The 16MP front camera may just be one of the best you'll find in the budget category.
Differentiator: Front shooter is one of the best in this category.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 The runner-up
The Redmi Note 5 is the phone you buy when you can't get your hands on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Like most of Xiaomi's budget phones in 2018, it also has an 18:9 panel, and a much better camera when seen next to its predecessor.
It also has a 4000mAh battery, making it a battery champion. If battery longevity is your primary consideration, then this is the phone to get. For ₹11,999, the phone offers incredible value for your money.
Differentiator: Two-day battery life.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Mini Mi
If you like what's on offer with the Redmi Note 5 but aren't sold on the 5.99-inch form factor, then the ₹7,999 Redmi 5 is the phone for you.
It has a Snapdragon 450 chipset and a smaller 5.7-inch HD+ display, but the compact size is ideal for one-handed usage, and the 3300mAh battery also delivers two days' worth of use.
Differentiator: Compact size.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 The OG selfie phone
The Redmi Y1 was a great option in this category when it launched late last year, particularly because of its front camera. But the phone is thoroughly outclassed by the Redmi Y2, and if you're in the market for a new phone today, there's no reason to choose the Y1 over the Y2.
Differentiator: First Xiaomi phone to be advertised by Katrina Kaif.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Lowering the barrier for entry
Starting at just ₹5,999, the Redmi 5A is Xiaomi's most affordable phone to date in India. You get a lot of value for your money, and the best part is that the phone runs MIUI relatively well in day-to-day usage.
Which should you buy?
With so many models to choose from, it's a gargantuan task to select one that fits your needs. So I'm going to break it down based on key characteristics, like battery life, camera quality, software updates, and so on. As I've stated above, I'm ignoring the Redmi Note 5 Pro because you can't actually walk into a store or go online and pick it up.
- Best battery life: Redmi Note 5
- Best camera: Mi A1
- Best selfie camera: Redmi Y2
- Best display: Redmi Note 5
- Best value: Redmi Note 5
- Best at software updates: Mi A1
So if you're looking for the best Xiaomi phone to pick up in the latter half of 2018, it's down to the Redmi Y2 or the Redmi Note 5. The Snapdragon 625 may not be as fast as the newer Snapdragon 636, but both phones offer 18:9 panels, decent cameras, and outstanding battery life.
The Redmi Y2 also has a more modern design, but the fact that the device has an HD+ display makes the Redmi Note 5 a more compelling option all things considered.